Alpine Rivers

The Alps are the birthplace of central Europe’s large streams, flowing into all directions. 180 million (human) Europeans are directly supplied with water by Danube and Po, Rhône and Rhine and many smaller rivers. Not accounted for billions of various plants and animals, amongst them many endangered species, that are provided with a variety of habitats from alpine to lowland river systems.
Only a few decades ago many alpine regions were nearly untouched and – if at all – only used for extensive transhumant grazing systems. Today, modern techniques and fast means of transport are offering quick access to the formerly remote areas, thus increasing human impact on those regions.
Water regulation measures, construction of hydropower stations, increasing recreational activities and last but not least climate change are severely affecting structure and quality of riverine systems, derogating aquatic, semi-aquatic, and adjacent habitats of plants and animals.
Rivers stand for connections rather than boundaries. They are the backbone of a tightly woven net of habitats, they are migration corridors not only for aquatic beings but also terrestrial animals following the course of the river, and they are a means of transport for dissolved organic and inorganic matter as well as for everything that’s floating in the water.
Awareness for the necessity of river protection has significantly increased over the past years. Many projects and initiatives have been founded and are caring for protection and restoration of rivers. Our international project “Alpine Rivers” aims at providing a network for all those initiatives and to create a common database to support the decision-making process for future environmental protection measures.